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Monday, December 8, 2014


Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

"The whole universe was created by God, and God was born of Mary. God created all things, and Mary gave birth to God. The God who made all things gave himself form through Mary, and thus he made his own creation. He who could create all things from nothing would not remake his ruined creation without Mary." (O Virgin, by whose blessing all nature is blessed! St. Anselm)

All things rejoice today, for creation has  been restored to life through the  womb of the Immaculately Conceived Virgin Mary. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary was given the grace to be sinless at the instant of her conception, according to Pope Pius IX's papal bull, Ineffabilis Deus, which declared the Immaculate Conception of Mary an article of faith on December 8, 1854. This buried treasure lay in the heart of the Church for centuries before its public recognition. 

The conviction that Mary was preserved from every stain of sin from her conception was believed by many of the early Church Fathers and gradually gained ground throughout the the history of Christianity. 

At the start of the 19th century, this development led to a petition drive for a dogmatic definition of the privilege of the Immaculate Conception.

Finally in 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, stating that “the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Saviour of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of original sin is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”

The belief in the Immaculate Conception also has gained ground through the words of our Lady herself. When Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes, France in 1958 she identified herself as the "Immaculate Conception."

We are reminded of the significance of the Incarnation. It was through Mary that our Lord received His flesh and blood. It was through Mary that God has come into our world.

Fr John Paul Shea 
As many of you know I was raised Mormon. The Mormon Church believes in Jesus, but they do not believe in the divinity of Jesus. Therefore for a Mormon, the Immaculate Conception would make no sense. But as part of a Church who believes in the Word of God made Flesh in the womb of Mary, the Immaculate Conception not only makes sense, but it is rightly fitting. 

Why would our Lord, the eternal splender of the High God, not choose to come into this world through a holy tabernacle? How could our Lord not choose to live and grow in what is not pure?

God chose Mary to bear our Lord in her womb. He chose her to participate in the redemptive mission of her Son, and this participation calls us to honor Mary with reverence.

We hear in today’s Gospel (Luke 1: 26-38) that even the Angel Gabriel, who is ranked in the highest order of the angels, had extreme reverence for our Lady. He approaches her with the words, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” 

Through these words of the angel we hear a profound “joy.” It is a new joy, a joy that breaks through the sadness of the ancient world that has been dominated by sin -- sin   initiated through the cooperative disobedience of the first woman, Eve; a sin cooperatively redeemed by the Sinless Virgin's "Yes!" It is an everlasting joy because it is holy, pure, and eternal.

My brothers and sisters, God has chosen the Blessed Mother to play a special role in salvation history. He chose to live in her so that He can live in us. As we receive the Eucharist today, let us thank our God for the blessings that we have received through the intercession of our Blessed Mother. Holy Mother of God, pray for us.

"God, then, is the Father of the created world and Mary the mother of the re-created world. God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life. For God begot the Son, through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him as the Saviour of the world. Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed." (St. Anselm) 

Read Fr. Shea's Sunday Sermon too! MAKE CROOKED ROADS STRAIGHT

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